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Unit 2: How Trade and Travel Changed the World

Lesson G: Avenues of Change in Africa

Opening: Travel and Trade Comes to Africa

The history of Africa has been challenging for many historians to uncover because of the methods used to record events. Many Africans base their understanding of the past on oral histories passed down through generations. Naturally, much of this information may be misinterpreted or even misleading, and the history books can only partially describe life during certain periods. However, we do know that travel and trade influenced the cultural and political developments of the period 1300 to 1550, much like it did around the world at this time.

You have learned about the role of travel and trade in the sharing of political and cultural ideas in areas of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East in previous lessons in Unit 2. The exchange of goods and ideas between cultures of the world resulted in both costs and benefits. The following assignment will help you recall examples of these costs and benefits.

The newspaper headlines below have been created based on actual historical events. Of course, regular newspapers did not exist prior to modern times, but if they did, they might have included headlines like those below.

Directions: Read each of the following examples, and answer the questions that follow as directed by your teacher.


newspaper headlines: european merchants trade silk, spices, and plague newspaper headlines: monsoon winds carry hinduism and islam

newspaper headlines: silk road an avenue for buddhism newspaper headlines: ming dynasty expansion increases number of chinese speakers newspaper headlines: mediterranean a sea of cultural change
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Written Activity - Notebook

In your notebook, respond to the following questions:

  • What have been the costs of travel and trade between people during the period 1300-1550?
  • What have been the benefits of travel and trade between people during the period 1300-1550?
  • How has trade led to the exchange of culture throughout Eurasia?

In the following activities, you will learn about the impacts of exchange between both Africans and foreigners. Contact by the Portuguese, and eventually many other European countries, permanently altered the course of African history. Now that you have previewed the role of trade in the exchange of ideas, move on to the next activity and learn about the role of Islam in the Mali and Songhai Empires.